Let’s talk: should we pay more for fruit and veg to help Aussie farmers? 15

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It’s been a tough few years for many Australian farmers growing fruit and vegetables across the country.

Volatile weather conditions and supermarket price wars have caused huge damage to farmers’ profits and their industry overall.

With the supermarket giants buying up the majority of the produce, and selling it to customers for competitive prices, it’s no wonder our farmers are doing it tough.

In order for the supermarkets to to be able to sell the produce at a low price point, they have to buy it at an even cheaper rate from the farmers. This has diminished their profit and made it harder for them to make a living doing what they know and love.

So should we all pay a little more at the register to support our farmers and their industry?

Many shoppers say they would love to be able to do this, as long as they knew it would get back to the farmer, but can’t afford the financial sacrifice.

With statistics showing that many pensioners are doing it tough and living week to week, it’s little wonder they have trouble forking out the money for more expensive produce from fruit and veg stores, where farmers generally make a little more money.

So what is the solution to this problem?

Today we’d like to hear your thoughts on the issue.

Should shoppers pay more for produce to help out Aussie farmers? Who’s responsibility is it to ensure farmers make enough money?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. First , boycott the big super markets, use the smaller ones, second , let the growers get together & tell the 2 big super markets what they will have to pay for the produce. If the supermarkets will not pay the price asked, they do not get any produce. A week with out produce will soon sort them out. As consumers we do not get the choice of telling shop keepers what we will pay them for the good we buy, & in this case the super markets are the consumers.
    I refuse to use either of the big supermarkets, & no I am not wealthy, an ordinary pensioner living on a basic pension.

    2 REPLY
    • A great theory Ian. but unfortunately if the farmers didn’t sell to the supermarkets they wouldn’t sell enough to be sustainable and the supermarkets would just import more from overseas. The biggest problem is that overseas companies can export to us cheaper than we can grow it ourselves.

    • Interesting point Ian regarding withholding produce; Difficult for two; Most growers’ are heavily in debt and cannot legally breach their mortgage in this way; Perishable produce is a loss on the farm if it cannot survive in a marketable state when ready.

      Our case here is as a Graziers’ on a Sheep Station; We are trending to poverty even after 135 years (and only a few of those in debt and certainly not in the last 32 years have we had even minor debt).

      Case in point due to Climate Change the recent heat sump cost us about 15% of our annual income in five weeks as markets slumped back for our Sheep sales with the high temperatures and volume sales.

      Statistics are that we sold nearly thirty tonnes of live stock for less than $30,000 AUD (yes less than a $1,000/tonne) and that price has only marginally risen in twenty years. Case in point my Dad sold Ewes in the local market in 1963 for £18 which has an equivalent today of $493.80 each (RBA Inflation Calculator); Where we only averaged $78 per head – 2016.

      Interesting to note the current LNP Government’s recent Agricultural White Paper shows the Grazier / Farmer receives 10% of the retail value share; Hence our Lambs would on sell after the “value adding sector” (read abattoir and shop) for $270,000 AUD within the next three weeks. Of course they (the LNP) are doing zero about this.

      Without major re-structure Australian Farmers’ are in a self located weak position; As I see it the only solution is for subsidies (UK / France / U.S. have them and their equivalents’ are doing quite well as are the Rural communities that depend on the turn over of money); Or, one area is to externalize cost and here I am saying that we pay thousands per year in regulation for livestock production and compliance; This all needs to be sought from the later stage processing and retail if the industry has any hope – without significant penalty to the consumer.

  2. I would pay more as long as it was going to the farmers and not to the supermarket. but afraid that is where it would end up ,farmers need to get together and say to the big ones , this is our price take it or f off

  3. I would happily pay more for Australian produce without the Supermarkets taking their profits.

  4. buy fruit and veg from farmers markets, farm gates, fresh produce only stores, or small supermarkets. Not the 2 larger ones. Also buy meat from the butcher shops where one can buy ‘1 or 2 chops’ as needed, not packaged in an amount pensioners don’t need.

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  6. As long as they are getting the 20 cents extra, the trouble is any profit on and above the supermarkets get it or the government not the farmer !that is why they, the farmers are in this position in the first place !

  7. I have mixed feelings on this topic. Back in the 70s, I remember vegetable farmers complaining about the cost of the new insecticides/fertilizers they were now required to use, at the demand of their buyers, Birdseye and Edgell. These fertilizers/insecticides have now poisoned many of our waterways and the flow on affect – we drink that water together with the chemicals used to “clean the water”. Carrots don’t stain the chopping board anymore, and the list goes on. Farmers work hard, in all weather conditions, crops can fail, affects their livelihoods, and are always under threat from their buyers. The problems lay with the “middleman and the end seller”. I grow my own, where possible and practicable and buy organic from the local farmers markets. I feel for those people who don’t have access to these options. Don’t enquire about what they feed to cattle, pigs and chickens for the commercial markets. Otherwise you will become a vegetarian!

  8. Perhaps there should be a surcharge on all imported fruit and vegetables and the money collected distributed to our Aussie farmers.

    1 REPLY
    • What a brilliant idea !! That would also make them more expensive to the consumer so they would be more inclined to buy Australian because it would be cheaper and in season.

  9. I wonder what sort of profits Woolworths and Coles end up with each year, into the millions no doubt.
    I would be happy to pay extra as long as the farmers received it.

  10. I buy local veg & fruit that is in season .. The more we buy & eat then the farmer can keep his price reasonable …if they throw away produce they still have to cover costs …So.. everyone eat more local veg.

  11. I am a farmer and I know that the supermarket makes toooooooo much money from the growers. They do not work together with the growers and producers in times of over supply when seasonal produce is at it’s best. They still charge high prices while the farmer ploughs perfectly good food back into the ground. There is so much greed and corruption in the system. They get better deals for larger purchases etc. If you send them a pallet of fruit and they find a couple of marked items in there they will condemn the whole lot at the growers expense. The supermarkets are the worst and the other is the agent. All their money does not come from sheer gut busting hard work which is what farmers do, it comes from ripping us off and filling their own pockets.

    If only more people knew what really goes on. Also I am speaking here about fresh fruits and vegetables but I do know cattle farmers and they will tell you the same thing goes on their too. We are heading for a food shortage due to the way the greedy system works. They make it not viable for farmers to keep producing. They even have the shopper convinced that every fruit or veggie should be blemish free and of perfect shape. We throw away hundreds and hundreds of Kgs of perfectly fine food because of these rules and regulations. Come on people this food is grown outside in every weather condition, often extreme at times. It is impossible to have perfect consistency like a manufactured product. Often the more perfect it is then more chemicals may have been used. So as they say “NO FARMERS NO FOOD.” Then you better get use to it. All you will be able to get is toxic ridden Chinese grown rubbish. They won’t even eat it over there.

    So do your bit and support farmers markets but be sure to know that they are a grower. One way to tell is if they have a number of different fruits and veggies then chances are they have been bought through the corrupt marketing system and not grown by them. Anyone with a brain should know that you can’t grow lots of those items and have them all ready to pick at the same time each week. Farmers at the weekend markets usually only grow or produce a couple of fruits or veggies. Buy Australian grown produce and read labels carefully if you are forced to buy the unfresh stuff or cans or bottles. The government won’t even help out with correct labelling so we can be aware of what we are buying and eating. See, more corruption there and it’s only getting worse.

  12. Yes I would as long as it goes to the farmers. And why can’t we buy directly from the farmers

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